Biggest IBSA Blind Football World Championships set to get underway in Madrid, Spain
Date: June 6, 2018
The biggest International Blind Sports Federation (IBSA) Blind Football World Championships in history, featuring 16 of the world's best teams, will kick-off in Madrid, Spain, on Thursday (7 June).
As well as the title on offer, countries will also be able to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
A livestream and results will be available at www.madrid.blindfootballworldcup.com/ alongside the match schedule.
Rights free pictures, highlights and broadcast footage will be available on request from
Six teams – Mexico, Costa Rica, Mali, European champions Russia, Thailand and Iran will all make their debuts alongside the more established nations, making the tournament the most competitive ever.
Hosts Spain will play in the opening match against Thailand on 7 June in group A. African champions Morocco and Turkey join them in the group.
Defending champions and Paralympic title-holders Brazil have been drawn in group D alongside Great Britain, Costa Rica and Mali. At the last edition in 2014 they beat two-time world champions and Americas gold-medallists Argentina 1-0 in extra-time to win their fourth trophy.
The Brazilian squad also includes eight players who were part of Brazil’s gold medal team at the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games. Forwards Jefinho and Ricardinho, most valuable players of the 2010 and 2014 World Championships respectively, will return.
"The preparation for the World Cup was the best possible,” Jefinho said. “We train a lot, we dedicate ourselves to get the best of our form in this competition. I believe we will arrive very well prepared for this challenge.
"The objective is to be champions, every time we get on the court the goal is victory. Of course it's game by game, step by step, but the goal is always the title. We know it will be the most disputed World Cup in history, it will be a very complicated competition, there are quality teams that can reach the title, but our objective is to win the final".
Brazil will open their campaign against Mali at 18:00 CET on 7 June.
Argentina will play in pool B, the so-called 'Group of Death', which features some of the most prolific blind football teams.
Paralympic silver medallists and three-time Asian champions Iran, Americas bronze medallists Colombia, and France, who finished fourth at the 2017 IBSA Blind Football European Championships in Berlin, Germany, will all be fighting to get past the group stage.
Argentina will play their opening game against Iran on 8 June at 14:00.
Five-time Asian title holders and world No.3 China will take on South Korea in their opening group C game at 09:00, also on 8 June. Wei Jiansen, the top scorer for the 2017 Asian Championships with five goals, will lead the Chinese men.
European gold medallists Russia and Mexico join them in group C.
The group stages of the 2018 IBSA Blind Football World Championships run from 7-12 June. The quarter finals and play-offs begin on 13 June with the final on 17 June.
All 44 matches will be held at the Colegio Sagrado Corazón which has capacity for 400 fans. Entry is free to spectators.
The Championships are being organised by the Spanish Blind Sports Federation (FEDC) and the Spanish National Organisation of the Blind (ONCE).
Image credit: OIS Photos